Athletics: Stephen Duncan aiming to defend Strabane title

Stephen Duncan
Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan defends his title in Sunday’s Strabane to Lifford Half Marathon, which is expected to attract a huge field.

Duncan, from the Omagh club, was a convincing winner last year. He has been injured but showed his well being with an impressive sixth in the Omagh Half Marathon and he is capable of running below seventy minutes. Team-mate Paul Barbour will go close.

The prolific racer scored victories in both the SSE Airtricity 10K and 10 Mile events in Derry. Gareth Grew from North Belfast can also go well while the evergreen Pauric McKinney from Inishowen will challenge.

Letterkenny athletes Ann Marie McGlynn and Natasha Adams took the top two places at the Titanic and also came first and third in the Queens 5K. Another one-two can be on the cards, while Lifford’s Claire McGuigan should be next best.

Meanwhile, the first round of the Northern Ireland Youths Development League for under 13, 15 and 17 boys and girls is being held today at the Antrim Forum.

City of Lisburn, last year’s overall champions, will feature again along with Ballymena and Antrim, North Down, Lagan Valley, Regent House and City of Derry.

Registration is from 9 o’clock with the first event, the hammer, starting at 10am. There will also be selected senior events.

Also on Sunday, a huge contingent of local athletes will be in action in the Virgin Money London Marathon.

Breege Connolly will have a great chance of breaking 2h 40m again in the Ladies event.

She recently smashed the record for the Larne Half Marathon after winning the Bundoran 10 Miles and has the ability to approach her best of 2:39:23 set in London two years ago.

In the Men’s race, Annadale trio Keith Purdy, John Devlin and Conor McMullan will be in action along with Aaron Meharg of Acorns and Barrie Atkinson of East Down.